Jackson EMC Lineman Stops Fire at Local Restaurant
Garrett Wessels is a Jackson EMC lineman who can add “local hero” to his resume. Wessels recently played a big part in putting out a kitchen fire at the Commerce Country Café, a beloved restaurant and community gathering spot.
Wessels was on-call and grabbing a quick lunch at Wendy’s in the Banks Crossing area on Sunday, April 3, when he suddenly noticed smoke coming from the Commerce Country Café, just over the hill.
“When I first saw the smoke, I thought maybe it was something they were cooking out back. But something told me to check it out,” Wessels said.
As Wessels arrived at the café, he saw people running out of the restaurant. Immediately, his response instincts took over. He spotted a woman running across the parking lot and confirmed with her that the fire was in the kitchen and that someone had called 911. He then grabbed a fire extinguisher from his bucket truck and ran into the café.
He carried the extinguisher towards the kitchen, kicked open the door, and started to put out the fire surrounding the grease oven area.
“It didn’t take long to put out the fire, but everything slows down in a moment like that,” Wessels said. “Once I knew it was out, I made my way back through the building to make sure everyone had gotten out ok. Thankfully, the dozen people who had been eating a late lunch were all out of the building.”
Knowing that the fire department was on its way to the scene, Wessels turned off the power to the building.
“When linemen respond to a house fire situation, we always cut power to the house. This helps protect the firefighters and other first responders on the scene from electric shock injury,” Wessels explained.
The local fire department arrived a few minutes later, and Wessels helped them hook up the hoses. Once they took control of the situation, Wessels returned to his truck and on-call duties, serving Jackson EMC members.
“I arrived at the scene just after the fire department arrived,” said restaurant owner Huy Nguyen, known by many as Wie. “I wasn’t aware of what exactly happened before I got there until I saw someone’s post recognizing Garrett on social media. I feel very fortunate that Garrett and the first responders helped stop the fire and kept everyone safe.”
Nguyen has owned the Commerce Country Café for 18 years. “I am very thankful to be a part of a community that is always looking out for one another and am humbled by the support I am seeing after the fire,” he said.
“I responded how I hoped anyone would – I saw a need and jumped into action. It’s how I was raised and how I approach my job as a lineman, too. I’m always happy to serve,” Wessels said.
Wessels has been a lineman at Jackson EMC since 2018, though he’s had his eyes set on a position with the electric cooperative since he was in high school. He was interested in linework but more importantly, desired to work a job that focused on serving others.
“Jackson EMC is a staple in our community, and I’ve known that from a young age. I enjoy working here as a lineman, alongside people who really care about the place we live. I’ve always known the employees to be friendly, hardworking and selfless people who really care about others,” Wessels said, humbly exemplifying the same traits in both his work and recent brave acts.
Jackson Electric Membership Corporation, the largest electric cooperative in Georgia and one of the largest in the nation, is headquartered 50 miles northeast of Atlanta in Jefferson, Georgia. The cooperative serves more than 246,000 meters on 14,000 miles of energized wire. For more information, visit jacksonemc.com.